One of the most effective tools in your newsletter growth toolkit should be the Giveaway.
If you use them correctly — alongside your referral program — they have some real advantages...
revitalise a "stagnant" referral program
add urgency for a significant referral boost
convert a large chunk of your audience on another platform (eg your podcast or YouTube) to join your email-list
earn extra revenue from sponsors (and close new sponsorship deals)
So how to get started?
There are three kinds of Giveaway you need to know about...
A Subscribe-to-Win Giveaway has nothing to do with referrals at all.
Instead, you incentivise people who are not already subscribed to your email list to sign up directly. By offering them the chance to win a prize when they subscribe within a set time period.
Example: As an author, you might run a Subscribe-to-Win Giveaway before launching a new book. Where you tell everyone who follows you on Twitter that you'll be giving away 3 signed copies of your new book at random to people who subscribe this week.
Subscribe-to-Win Giveaways are a great way to incentivise an audience you have on another platform to take action and join your email-list.
They work particularly well if you have a large social media following, YouTube channel, or podcast, and want to convert this audience to email subscribers.
A Refer-to-Win Giveaway is similar to the normal referral program you might run with SparkLoop, but instead of the subscriber winning rewards for making referrals, they get entries into a draw to win a prize.
The more referrals they make, the higher their chance of winning.
Example: The Flipside newsletter generates thousands of referrals with a monthly Refer-to-Win Giveaway. Every subscriber who refers at least one friend is entered into a prize-draw to win a $200 Amazon gift card.
As you can see from the example, it's possible to combine your "normal" referral program with a Giveaway for best results...
Compared to a normal referral program, Refer-to-Win Giveaways have three main advantages...
Some of your subscribers may be more incentivised by the chance of winning a large prize, instead of the guarantee of getting a small reward for making referrals
Giveaways are time-limited, which adds extra urgency — prompting more subscribers to share today
It's easy to switch what Giveaway prizes you use each time you run a Giveaway — prompting more of your subscribers to want to enter, and your subscribers to try and share more often (eg every 4-6 weeks)
It's possible to combine the Subscribe-to-Win and Refer-to-Win Giveaways into a Two-Sided Giveaway.
In this case, both existing subscribers who make referrals and new subscribers who sign up during the time period will be entered into the Giveaway to win prizes.
You can also choose to limit entry to only existing subscribers who make referrals and new referred subscribers who signed up.
For best results, bear the following tips in mind...
Choose a reward that your audience will be highly motivated to win. Exclusive, exotic and valuable prizes work well
Run a Giveaway every 8-12 weeks to maximise results without it getting stale
Switch up your Giveaway prizes regularly
To increase urgency and encourage more referrals, keep the Giveaway time period short. 7-days works best
Give a consolation prize to people who entered the Giveaway but didn't win. Like a small gift voucher from a sponsor
Announce the winners (and ideally a smiling photo) on social media and in the newsletter. Seeing that someone actually won will increase trust and participation next time!
To ensure only high-quality subscribers are acquired via your Giveaway, follow these guidelines...
If you're running a Refer-to-Enter Giveaway with a large prize, clearly state that only genuine referrals will count. And set your SparkLoop anti-fraud level to
Enforce double-opt-in on your signup form for the duration of the Giveaway
Choose a Giveaway prize that is well-aligned with the kind of person who would be interested in your newsletter in the first place
At SparkLoop we often see newsletter creators use (Referral) Giveaways as an opportunity to close new sponsorship deals.
In fact, any newsletter with 5k+ subscribers should be able to find sponsors who will not only provide an amazing Giveaway prize(s) for free, but even pay for the opportunity to do so!
This is definitely something to discuss internally with your advertising/sponsorships acquisition team. Even if you only use it as a foot-in-the-door to run a small scale test with new sponsors to help them feel comfortable becoming a paid sponsor.